Well here we go boys, the $1500.00 NLHE. This is the first of two events that I would be playing in this year and as a player I needed to cash this year. I have won a bunch of smaller tournaments and I have earned my stripes in the cash games. In fact, I know that I could earn a living playing in cash games. I would never do it for two reasons. One, I am a good player and I am a great salesman. I will never be as good a poker player as I am an executive, so if I need money, I do what I do better than anyone else in the world. Two, and most importantly, poker is my passion. It is the unsolvable puzzle. It is the thing that allows me to go into battle and cement the friendships I have, with men that I trust, and they trust me. It is WHY we go to the desert with lights. It is the reason to have a tribe. It is a thing that I love. I would never make something I love a beast of burden, whipping it, to pay my bills. I would have to get away from poker by playing golf to relax and then what would the point be? The reason I talk about this so much is for the younger players. My advice is to go to school, get a good job. THINK for just two seconds before you “go pro”. Don’t turn your play into your work, because you will turn your life into a grind. Unless you are that 2% and buddy you are probably not the next Danny N. Sorry. Anytime any of you readers would like to meet real poker pros let me know. I will introduce you to them and they will tell you that what they do is a lot harder than what I do. They don’t have poker to relax with. That pony is pulling the cart already. The point I was making, before I wandered off, is that my game was there and I felt more dangerous at the poker table than I ever have. I have just never had a cash in the World Series Of Poker and frankly that was pissing me off. This would be my year and I was going home with a pelt…period. I also had something else talking to me in the back of my mind. Bradley, a very close friend of mine and fellow tribe member, was backing me this year and frankly, he had faith in me when there was no track record to support that faith. I knew that Bradley was wise to do it, and I wasn’t interested in making any stupid mistakes, that left either of us looking foolish. The screw-up fairy visited Brad just before the 06 series, and he wasn’t able to attend that year. The bottom line was, it was time to get it done!
Jason and I walked into the Rio ballroom. Like many years before, alone, but it was much different now. Our metaphorical weapons were no longer new. They were scratched and dented, and boys and girls, this truly wasn’t our first rodeo. We arrived early, and I was off to the bathroom for the usual pre-game routine, so I gave Jason a big hug and said “see you at the final table”. He said, “how about I buy you a hot dog at the first break, Big Man”? I smiled.
There were 2,126 players and five minutes to find a chair. Seat three, table 96. I made my way to my sea, and when I show up, I see something I am not crazy about. Greg Miller is in seat one. I am not afraid to sit with anyone, but he is a loose cannon and I really don’t want to have to hug a porcupine for the next four hours. He is a great guy and he is fun to play with. In a past life, he was a professional hockey player. Now he makes his mark as the only touring pro that always wears pajama bottoms at the poker table. Even the final tables, on T.V. Greg is the type of player that plays all 40 events at the WSOP. I play two. He is likely to have the attitude that he wants to get big in chips fast, or get out. He has another event tomorrow, so who cares. This makes him very dangerous. I know he will be playing way to fast, and I can’t depend on what he has. It could be Aces or it could be pocket fives. He will play both hands the same.
I am about 20 percent up from random stealing, an hour into things. When I pick up AK Spades in early position, so early, in fact, that it is Greg’s big blind. Perfect! The blinds are 50/100 with no ante and I just call. Everyone folds around to Greg, including the small blind. Just then, he cascades all his chips into the middle, he is all-in. I just knew he was going to be like that. I turned to him and said “next time you need a chip to tip the drink girl just ask”. I tossed my hand into the muck. I hoped that later, he would do that when I held a hand. If I was willing to gamble, I would have mixed it with him, but I was being careful. Disciplined. I grinded my way to the first break. I had doubled up my original stack of $1,500.00 to just over $3,000.00. I felt good.
I met Mr. Galt at the commissary and he was doing well also. He always does. He is one of my very best friends, and I would say this anyway, he is a great poker player. Especially in tournaments. He is very careful when he plays and he has the patience of Jobe. I always expect him to go deep. He is a real student of the game. We laugh and joke about how we didn’t expect the other guy to make it this deep, because, you know you’re “retarded”. I told Jason about the new drink I invented called the “Seven – Deuce”. I always like to drink coffee in a tourney, but they make it so hot, that I normally pour water in it to cool it down. This year, I started cooling my java with sugar-free, Red Bull. All the players were saying how gross it looked, until they tried it. When you see that on ESPN, just remember who invented it. Okay, back to the game. 300 or so, are already dead.
I arrive at the table, to see one of the tournament directors there, with a handful of cards. Moving day and the table was breaking. I hate moving tables. You spend all that time figuring out who is who, and now, a whole new table. They know everything, and you have no information on them. The only plus here, is they know nothing about me. My plan is to get there and start talking it up. Giving the impression that I am a loose player, while I continue to play my tight, aggressive A game. Hopefully, one of those goats will be going down the hole.
I get seated in seat 3. To my right is a British pro. He was wearing support gear for a site in the UK, pokerlads.uk or something like that, and he was running over the table. There were several short stacks making moves, like lemmings diving off a cliff, and pokerlads call two of them in a row. They were all-in, and he put them all out. He held AJ both times. We were at a pivotal time in the tourney. The blinds are $100.00/$200.00 with a $25.00 ante. The reason that this is important, is that you can really gain chips now. Because using position, you can steal the blinds, and when you do, you pick up $550.00 each time. Because of the antes, I was in really good shape. I was in the big blind when the table folded all the way around to the small blind. Pokerlads makes it $1,200.00. Please let me have something! I squeeze my cards and there they are, the weapons of mass destruction. Ace of Hearts and the Ace of Diamonds. I decide that I’m not fooling around. I just move my stake in front of my cards. I’m “All-In”. Like a shot, Pokerlads calls and I say, “you are going to need more than AJ this time”. He flips over two black eights and I say, “you are a ways from home”. Then it happens, and for the sake of brevity and my sanity, I will not go through a blow-by-blow. The board runs out four clubs and Pokerlads rakes the pot, and all my chips with a flush. All I could say is, “you better win this thing after that”. “Good Luck Guys”. Pokerlads says, “Sorry mate, I will buy you a beer after this is over”.
I was off to find Jason, to let him know what happened. I wouldn’t have to say anything. When you see a tribe member standing next to your table, and it’s not a break, you know. He was happy and smiling, despite the fact he was down to like $600.00 in chips. He mouthed “AA cracked”. I mouthed back, “me too”. I just stood there steaming. I was PISSED, and I guess it showed. He said, “you ok?” I said “NO”, and I wasn’t . I went to the hall. There was a couch, and I had 15 minutes to wait. I knew Jason needed to get it in twice quick, he was short on options. If it worked out, or he got busted, either way, I would know in less than 15 minutes. He walked out in less than 10 minutes. It didn’t work out. He said “I got cracked and I was fine, you know, that’s poker. Then I saw you, and now I’m PISSED too”! We both laughed that uncomfortable laugh, like a first date, and you know you don’t like each other laugh, and we walked. Through the Rio, out the door, halfway to the Gold Coast next door and said, “Why are we going here?” We turned around and headed back to the cab line. Finally, I say, “I never tilt. I NEVER get like this! I am just blind with it”. It was an odd feeling, and I didn’t like it.
We went back to the Bellagio. I was in the room looking out the window, over the strip, and I called Brad. I got his voicemail and I said, “I’m out. I let us down, and I feel like shit about it, but I did my very best. No mistakes”. Then I called Lucy. If anyone could make me feel better, it was her. “Hunny, what is wrong you? You sound awful”. I told her I was out, and I was twisted, and I couldn’t shake it. Just then, like an angel, she says “Babe I am by the pool. You call Jason, and you boys go to that machine gun shooting place we read about.” Thanks sweetie, that might just do it.
Two hours and 2000 rounds later, me with a Thompson sub-machine gun in my hand, and Jason with an Mp5 full auto, we were better. We mouthed something different to each other, “F – Yea”!!! The brass was flying, and we were better. Two friends doing stupid guy stuff, in Vegas. That turney was in the past. We walked out of the firing range, into the gun shop and asked if they could call us a cab. They said they could, but it would be like an hour before one would come this far out. Get this, the guys says the bus stop is out front and it will take you to the strip. Note to self: Take a limo to the gun store next time and have the driver wait!! Friggin public bus!! So, we are sitting on the bus bench and I say, “do you even know how much it costs to ride the bus?” Jason responds with, “No”. We both pull out our rolls and realize we have over 15 grand on us, and the smallest bill we have is a fifty. Guess the driver is getting a big tip today. I called Lucy and she said she would get cab and come get us. “Thanks”, we were already on the bus. “Why didn’t you guys just get a towncar?” Hey, good idea. Sometimes we are just retarded.
I turned to Jason, (after I took his picture on the public bus, with my cell phone) and said “F-ing eights Man”. He said the only thing a true friend could say. “Have you considered taking up checkers?”